The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party

By Michael Bowen | Go to book overview

Conclusion

The generational change that brought the strong conservatives to prominence also occurred on the other side of the factional divide. In 1959 Sim DeLapp, leader of the 1952, pro-Eisenhower forces in North Carolina, wrote a long letter to Dewey protesting a patronage appointment that went to a Democrat. Dewey had left the governor’s mansion five years earlier and returned to private life, yet he felt compelled to forward the letter to Brownell with a puzzled confession. “How shall I answer Mr. DeLapp?” Dewey asked. “I remember him, but I do not clearly remember which side of the fence he was on at what time, nor do I know whether there is anything either of us should do to help him.”1 His response to DeLapp is not noted in the archives, but it is clear that Dewey’s role in the party hierarchy had diminished. His outlook on the GOP’S campaign strategy, however, remained the same. In 1966, in the midst of another round of factionalism, this time between strong conservatives who had nominated Goldwater in 1964 and moderates under newly installed RNC chairman Ray Bliss of Ohio, Dewey stepped into the fray as senior statesman and voice of reason. He rereleased his 1950 Princeton lectures, where he had forcefully pled his case for liberal Republicanism, as a slim volume titled Thomas E. Dewey on the Two-Party System. In the book’s foreword, John Wells, manager of Nelson Rockefeller’s failed 1964 preconvention campaign, wrote, “Protection of our fundamental political liberty depends on two parties with reasonably equal strength, and that means the Republican party must be broad-based, moderate, and forward-looking.”2 In twenty years, the terms used had changed little and the battle was far from over.

By making Barry Goldwater and his abortive presidential campaign the flashpoint for political conservatism, scholars have downplayed impor-

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The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms ix
  • Introduction 1
  • One - Thirst for Power and Self-Perpetuation, 1944–1946 15
  • Two - Communism vs. Republicanism, 1946–1948 35
  • Three - Opportunity Wasted, 1948 56
  • Four - A Nation of Morons, 1949–1950 75
  • Five - The Great Republican Mystery, 1951–1952 109
  • Six - If We Sleep on This, We Are Really Suckers, 1952 130
  • Seven - Prelude to a Purge, 1952–1953 153
  • Eight - Moderating Republicanism, 1953–1964 173
  • Conclusion 201
  • Notes 207
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 247
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